Hugh Grant: Judge rejects attempt to throw out lawsuit alleging illegal snooping by The Sun

Hugh Grant’s lawsuit against The Sun will go to trial, a judge decided as he rejected an attempt by the paper’s publisher to throw it out.

The Notting Hill star has alleged that journalists and investigators were hired by the paper to illegally snoop on him, including tapping his landline and bugging his car and breaking into his home.

On Friday (26 May), Justice Timothy Fancourt said a trial in January will have to determine whether The Sun had carried out unlawful information gathering.

News Group Newspapers, which owns The Sun, had argued that Grant didn’t bring his claims within a six-year time limit. The judge dismissed Grant's phone hacking claims on time limitation grounds, but said the case could proceed on the other allegations.

“It was only on seeing invoices disclosed... in 2021 that Mr Grant believed that private investigators had been instructed by The Sun to target him in various ways, particularly in 2011,” the judge wrote.

The case was argued during a hearing last month that also included phone hacking allegations by Prince Harry against News Group, Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers.

Fancourt's ruling didn't address the Duke of Sussex's case as he wants to hear more about Harry's allegations that he was prevented from bringing his claims much sooner because of a “secret agreement” between Buckingham Palace and Murdoch's papers.

Harry alleged that the royal family had agreed to settle their cases with NGN, publisher of the defunct News of the World, out of court after related litigation died down. He said the deal called for an apology from the newspapers.

Grant arrives in court in April (PA)
Grant arrives in court in April (PA)

In court papers, Harry said that he only brought his lawsuit when efforts to expedite that settlement failed. He claimed that his brother Prince William subsequently received a “huge” settlement over phone hacking allegations against News Group.

NGN has denied there was a “secret agreement”, while the palace hasn't responded to messages seeking comment on that or William's alleged settlement.

Following the judge’s ruling, a spokesperson for News Group issued a statement saying that it was pleased that the court threw out Grant's phone hacking allegations.

“NGN strongly denies the various historical allegations of unlawful information-gathering contained in what remains of Mr Grant’s claim,” the statement said.

Additional reporting by Associated Press